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Last Updated: Friday, 1 February 2008, 17:00 GMT
Liberia in record cocaine seizure
Men near drums full of cocaine on ship
Some suggested throwing the drugs into the sea
Barrels containing about 2.5 tonnes of cocaine have been seized from a ship off the coast of Liberia.

It is the single largest drug seizure in the country's history, according to maritime officials.

The ship, the Blue Atlantic, was spotted on the high seas on Thursday by a French military vessel, which intercepted and towed it to the port.

South American cartels are increasingly trying to send their drugs to Europe through West Africa.

The BBC's Jonathan Paye-Layleh in Monrovia says that Liberian security officials at first did not know what to do with haul.

If this had hit the Liberian market, it would have destroyed the entire country
Ashford Pearl
Monrovia Port Security
They said they had not yet decided whether to burn the cocaine or dump it into the ocean.

They were concerned that dumping it could have a negative impact on the environment.

Ashford Pearl, the head of Port Security in Monrovia said 92 barrels of cocaine had been seized.

"It is huge; if this had hit the Liberian market, it would have destroyed the entire country," he said.

Officials said all nine members of the crew arrested on board the ship were Ghanaians who were immediately turned over to the Liberian police.

"They arrested the vessel on high seas; it wasn't in the Liberian waters, but they towed it to Liberia because the ship was flying the flag of Liberia," Mr Pearl said.

West Africa, has increasingly become a point favoured by Latin American drug cartels because of weak local law enforcement and a largely unsupervised coastline.

The drugs are flown or shipped across the Atlantic and then onto markets in Europe.

The past year has seen large cocaine seizures in other countries in the region including Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Senegal and Sierra Leone.

SEE ALSO
Africa - new front in drugs war
09 Jul 07 |  Africa

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